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Helena Estate Planning Attorney

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There comes a time for many families when it is necessary for someone to become the legal guardian of an adult relative. In order to become a legal guardian, a Montana court must appoint you through a guardianship proceeding. Typically, adult guardianship becomes necessary for individuals who are unable to make or communicate responsible personal or financial choices as a result of mental illness, deterioration or disability, physical incapacity, or impairment as a result of excessive use of intoxicants or drugs. One way to address issues like this before they occur is to work with a Helena estate planning attorney.  

What kind of documentation is needed to file for adult guardianship?

In order to become a guardian over another adult, you first must obtain written documentation from the individual’s doctor that he or she suffers from one of the conditions that make guardianship appropriate. You also must decide what type of guardianship you are seeking. For instance, you can seek a limited guardianship that covers only certain aspects of an individual’s life, such as financial affairs, or a plenary guardianship, which covers all aspects of an individual’s life.

Do I need to file any documentation with the court?

Once you have the required medical evidence, you must file a guardianship petition, along with evidence of the individual’s condition, with the court. You also must have a summons served on the individual for whom you are seeking guardianship that gives him or her information about the case that you have filed with the court. Notice of the guardianship proceedings also must go to all close relatives of the individual, as well as to anyone with whom the individual is currently living. This can be a complex process, so it is best to work with a Helena estate planning attorney in order to obtain the desired outcome.

Will there be a hearing?

In most cases, a court will hold a guardianship hearing within 30 days of the filing of a guardianship petition. However, if there is an emergency situation, the court may appoint a temporary guardian for the individual until a court hearing is held. A temporary guardianship stays in place until a permanent guardianship is put into place or the guardianship petition is dismissed. In some cases, an expert witness in the form of a doctor or other medical care professional must appear and testify. If someone is contesting or objecting to guardianship, then there may be multiple court hearings until the case is resolved.

Are there ways to avoid the need for adult guardianship hearings?

If you engage in proper planning, however, you may be able to avoid an adult guardianship proceeding altogether. All too often, sudden medical events or accidents result in an inability of an individual to make appropriate financial or personal decisions. By signing Healthcare and Financial Powers of Attorney in advance and while you are still competent, you will give the person of your choice the power to make any important or necessary decisions on your behalf, without the necessity of a guardianship proceeding. Doing so will definitely save you time and money, particularly in the event of an unexpected situation.

Contact Our Law Firm Today

Adult guardianship is a complex subject that also can be emotionally taxing for all parties involved. If you would like more information on this or any other estate planning issue, call Silverman Law Office, PLLC to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated Helena estate planning attorney.



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